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Artists Archibald J. Motley, Jr.

Archibald J. Motley, Jr.

American Painter

Archibald J. Motley, Jr. Photo
Movement: Harlem Renaissance

Born: October, 7, 1891 - New Orleans, Louisiana

Died: January 16, 1981 - Chicago, Illinois

"I feel that my work is peculiarly American; a sincere personal expression of this age and I hope a contribution to society."

Archibald J. Motley, Jr. Signature


Archibald Motley captured the complexities of black, urban America in his colorful street scenes and portraits. Painting during the time of the Harlem Renaissance, Motley infused his genre scenes with the rhythms of jazz and the boisterousness of city life, and his portraits sensitively reveal his sitters' inner lives. His use of color to portray various skin tones as well as night scenes was masterful.

His depictions of modern black life, his compression of space, and his sensitivity to his subjects made him an influential artist, not just among the many students he taught, but for other working artists, including Jacob Lawrence, and for more contemporary artists like Kara Walker and Kerry James Marshall.

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